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Task Force Analyzes Detainees' Motivation in Iraq

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2007 – Forces in Iraq are studying detainees to find out what motivates insurgents and terrorists in that country, the general overseeing detention operations there said today.

Marine Maj. Gen. David M. Stone, the chief of Multinational Force Iraq’s detainee operations and commander of Task Force 143, spoke to online journalists and “bloggers” from his headquarters in Baghdad.

Stone’s task force has launched an extensive study into just who detainees being held by coalition forces in Iraq are, what motivates them and what their morale is like. The whole idea of the study is to remove the insurgents from the battlefield and ensure they do not, upon release, take up arms against the Iraqi government and the coalition, Stone said.

The detainees fall into several groups, but the common trait is that most are unemployed. The largest percentage of detainees are those attacking the Iraqi government or coalition because they are paid to do so, Stone said.

The second-largest type of detainees is those committing violence because of intimidation. “The terrorists are threatening them or their families,” the general said.

Others are nationalists who see the coalition as an occupying force, and the smallest group, but the most powerful, are jihadists, Stone said. These are men who “are wedded to a very corrupt view of Islam.”

Coalition officials are working to use the time in detention to wean individuals away from terrorist groups. The Iraqi government and coalition separate the detainees into five groups based on their perceived threat. So die-hard terrorists are held in separate detention facilities from moderates or those who are being held because they were forced by poverty or intimidation to attack.

The so-called moderates receive vocational training and can work in industries the government is standing up, Stone said.

“All of this is part of a coherent plan,” he said.

The Iraqi legal system is performing well, Stone said. The Central Criminal Court of Iraq has jurisdiction over the detainees, and the four panels of judges “are very fair and balanced.” The courts judge evidence and impose sentences or let people go if the evidence is not sufficient.

He said the main problem facing the criminal court is protecting the judges, Stone said.

“In the last three years, 26 of these guys have been killed,” he said. “We do our level best to ensure the courthouse has that protection, because many people would like to see these honest judges dead.”

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